Well, I promised in a recent post that I would talk about the clip on mic when it got here, and I decided the easiest way to do this, being a rookie, was a little show-and-tell.

So, it comes in a tiny little faux leather pouch, with an extra clip and cover. Everything pretty much as expected.  I bought this one on a “three day christmas sale”. I put that in quotes because the $18.99 it was on 3 day christmas sale is the exact same price it is on “special holiday sale” today. Sufficed to say, their sale is BS. I highly doubt they have every sold it at the list price of $49.99, so don’t be had by that load of bull. This is not a $50 mic on sale. This is a $20 mic. I didn’t have such delusions going in, but I’m a rookie, and it had good reviews, so seemed like a good intro to the clip on mic.

First impression: Incredible volume. Mediocre quality.

Being a clueless newbie, I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do in my phone settings to improve this, but the overall impression I got was loud and washed out. It sounds a bit like…well, you know, a bit like one of those people you talk to who seem to be attempting to swallow their smartphone whole while talking to you – the people who just about scream directly into the speaker, and that’s their normal volume.

Now, I know one possibility is to move the clip further away from me, but that defeats the purpose of the clip. For regular talking, if all you need is some volume, it’s likely a very good deal, but if more nuanced sound is required, it seems to be not particularly well-suited to that.

I should admit a bias though; I do come from a family of audiophiles, and have grown accustomed to the impressive front-facing speakers on the HTC One M8(actually the reason I chose the phone, in spite of having several other things about it that get on my nerves, like the glitchy screen…mostly the glitchy screen).

But, let’s not take my word for it, I did a sound comparison between the phone, the samson meteorite I received the other day, and the clip on, so you can hear the sound difference yourself:

It’s still weird hearing my own voice. We’re all lost inside of our own heads, so I can’t say which of these three recordings is ‘truest’ to the way I actually sound, but I suspect my phone. The meteorite sounds really close, and has better clarity, but lower bass response. Still, they’re reasonably close. It’s the iGear that has that is the outlier. It’s very loud, and very washed out. I even attempted clipping it to the back of my shirt for improved responsiveness. No dice. The difference was marginal. There just isn’t anywhere to clip it that makes sense for this sort of recording.  Up side, it’s loud enough that I could probably clip it to my slippers and be heard just fine!

Still, since I’m stuck in my own head, and always surprised to find my voice is significantly higher in pitch than I expect it to be. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just having one of those biased moments where you think ‘that doesn’t sound like me!’ on a recording, so I pulled up the files in audacity for a visual comparison.

sound comparison

And, while I’m hardly an expert at reading waveforms, it does seem that I was more or less right. The iGear is very loud without much detail. The Samson is picking up a lot of the finer detail, but also doing that fancy noise-cancelling job, so you can see that the phone lands somewhere between, but far closer to the samson than the iGear.

Now, if anyone has any tips for changing the settings in my phone to maybe help the iGear along, I am willing to try it. I fiddled with it a bit, but haven’t really been able to get any significant difference in response. Whether this is a quirk of clip on mics, or just this specific one…well, I won’t pretend to know; it’s the only one I’ve tried.

I’m half tempted to return it, not because it’s horrible, but because I just can’t see much of a use for it as it stands. I was hoping to use it so I could record things for youtube with a better volume response than I’ll be able to get out of a phone a few feet away, but that’s just not realistic if it’s going to sound like one of those people you talk to on the phone and go ‘omg, stop trying to swallow your speaker and just talk normally.’

I’ll fiddle with the volume controls on my phone more tomorrow and see if I can adjust it in a way that won’t sound quite so blegh. I don’t need it to be perfect, really (who would actually expect perfect at this price point, anyway?), but I also am unlikely to use it heavily if the sound quality makes me cringe.

That unfortunately leaves me with the dilemma of still needing to jimmyrig a set up so I can record with a decent sound quality + video quality + volume, but it’s not emergency stuff. I can think through how my space and my equipment need to orient themselves for optimum potential until, you know, I actually have half a clue about what I’m doing. 😉

Until Next Time, the learning curve is steep, but not impassable.